Interesting Dubai facts: a small desert town only 50 years ago, the city has developed into a global city that is both the business and cultural centre in the Middle East.
Dubai Holidays: A popular tourist destination and one of the most liberal places in the Middle East, its development has been driven by the desire to be bigger and better. Dubai is famous for having the largest, newest, biggest, most expensive [*]..
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Many facts about Dubai, such as it being the largest city in the United Arab Emirates and for having the tallest building in the world are well known. The city is also renowned for its luxury shopping, ultramodern architecture, the glitz and glamour, and for the lavish lifestyle of its residents.
Yes its artificial and often over-the-top
Yes it lacks culture and can appear soulless
Yes it get ridiculously hot in the summer
Yet, there are many other interesting facts about Dubai, some fun, some strange and crazy even, that you may not be aware of.
Today, I am going to break these down for you.
Let’s start with the obvious and work our way to the most interesting, fun, and strangest facts.
So keep reading until the end…
Planning the perfect stopover? Check out this Dubai Itinerary guide on things to do and places to go
Quick Dubai Facts
Dubai Total Population: 3,137 million (2019)
Annual visitors: 15,92 million (2019)
Currency in Dubai: UAE dirhams (US$ 1 = AED 3.67)
Total area: 1,588 square miles (4,110 square kilometres)
Want to see what this city looks like from the sky in a seaplane? Check this post!
Islam is the official religion
Dubai is predominantly a Muslim country, and you will notice this immediately upon landing in the city. Article 7 of the UAE’s Provisional Constitution declares Islam the official state religion of the UAE.
With this comes traditions and laws unlike other countries. You will also notice a multitude of mosques dotted across the city and Muslims are called to pray five times a day, referred to as the azaan which you will also hear throughout.
Dubai also has Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and other religious communities residing in the city. Expatriates and visitors are allowed to follow their own religion without repercussions.
The official language is Arabic
Although Arabic is the official language of Dubai and the UAE, English is the most spoken language in Dubai.
You will also find a lot of residents who speak Hindi, Urdu, Persian, Bengali, Tamil, Chinese, and Malayalam, in addition to many other languages.
Dubai is not a country
Although frequently described as a city, a province or even as a country, Dubai is not a country.
The fact is that the city is a constituent member along with six other emirates of the federation of United Arab Emirates.
Dubai is located on the south-east coast of the Persian Gulf in the Arabian desert. It shares a border with Abu Dhabi to the south, Sharjah to the north and the Sultanate of Oman to the southeast.
Dubai coordinates: 25.2697°N 55.3095°E
Dubai is not the capital of the UAE
It is the capital of the Emirate of Dubai, one of the seven emirates that make up the country.
However, a lot of people are surprised by this Dubai fact that the capital of the UAE (United Arab Emirates) is its neighbouring Abu Dhabi.
Dubai is located on the continent of Asia
More Interesting Facts about Dubai ↓
The city boasts the tallest structure in the world
Dubai is home to some of the tallest skyscrapers in the world. However, the biggest of them all is…
The Burj Khalifa, standing tall at a height of 828 meters (2,717 ft), is the tallest man-made structure in the world.
Can you imagine? That’s 3 times taller than the Eiffel Tower.
It took over 22 million man working hours to complete the structure at a cost of $1.5 billion. The tower has 163 floors, 26 000 glass panels at its exterior and more than 1,5 million square feet of reflective aluminium and stainless steel panels
Here are more records held by the Burj Khalifa:
- The observation deck on the 124th floor is the third highest observation deck in the world and the highest one which is accessed by the public
- Highest mosque in the world on the 158th floor
- Highest nightclub in the world on the 144th floor
- Highest swimming pool in the world on the 76th floor
- Fastest elevators in the world at 18m per second or 40 miles per hour
The Burj Khalifa can be seen from 95 kilometres away, so people as far as the south of Bahrain or Qatar can actually see it.
The Burj Khalifa was initially named as Burj Dubai which literally means Tower Dubai.
However, while in the process of being constructed, Dubai found itself in a deep financial difficulties and was helped out by its neighbouring state, Abu Dhabi. To show gratitude to Abu Dhabi and its Emir, Sheikh Khalifa Al Nahyan, the tower was renamed as Burj Khalifa.
There are ATMs that dispense gold bars
If you’re looking to buy some gold, the Gold to Go ATM machine located in the Dubai mall will let you purchase anything from a 2.5-gram, 24-karat gold coin to a one-ounce gold bar.
And if you’re wondering how the pricing works, there’s a built in pricing system within that updates the price near real-time in line with fluctuations in the market.
There is NO income tax
That’s right. You get your full salary in Dubai, without having to cry over all of those deductions on your payslip each month.
It is not completely tax free though. The UAE implemented value added tax (VAT) on 1 January 2018 at a 5% rate.
Fasting in Ramadaan lasts longer if you’re in the Burj Khalifa
The Burj Khalifa is so tall that people above the 80th floor actually get more hours of sunlight per day than the people at street level.
Yes, the Burj Khalifa is so tall that residents on the 150th floor and above see the sun longer than the rest of the people in Dubai. Which means that they have to wait longer to break the fast in Ramadaan, as the ending of the fast is dependent on the time the sun sets.
Dubai has a crime rate of almost zero
The city has one of the world’s lowest crime rates at less than 1%. Some even claim that the figure is virtually 0%. In 2018 it was ranked the eighth safest city in the world. There is strict law enforcement and engaging in even the slightest of criminal activities can get one imprisoned.
Which makes Dubai is a very safe city to travel to.
The net worth of the richest person in Dubai: $5.9 billion
Forbes ranked Abdulla bin Ahmad Al Ghurair’s as the richest man in Dubai and the 296th-richest person in the world. Abdulla was born into a successful business family, but most of his wealth came after he founded Mashreqbank in 1967 as the leading bank in the UAE.
The richest woman in Dubai is Huda Kattan. A Dubai-based blogger, worth Dh2 billion and with over 30 million followers on Instagram. She is among Forbes’ richest self-made women.
Dubai is home to the second-largest shopping mall in the world
It not a surprising Dubai fact to know that the city is a famous shopping destination. There are over sixty malls dotted throughout with twelve others under construction.
The Dubai mall is the largest among these and use to hold the title of the largest mall in the world by total area at 1,124,000 square meters, that is until the West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada took the title.
The Dubai Mall houses the Aquarium and Discovery Center and the world’s largest candy store, Candylicious, covering over 10,000 feet. There is also a waterfall inside the mall.
Here’s a little unknown fact: The waterfall has been designed with an illusion. If you stare or concentrate hard enough on one of the statues diving from the waterfall, the others disappear.
Fuel is cheaper than water in Dubai
The petrol price in Dubai and the UAE is among the cheapest in the world largely due to heavy government subsidies. On the other hand, water is an essential resource in the desert.
The current per-litre price is Dh2.16.
Dubai literally means “money”
Now, I don’t know how factual this one about Dubai is, but there is a theory that the meaning of the word Dubai is money. This comes from an old Arabic proverb “Daba Dubai” meaning, “they came with a lot of money.”
Nobody really knows how Dubai got its name.
Another theory claims that Dubai got its name from the same word, Daba, which also refers to a swarm of baby locusts as locusts were very common in the area before the first settlement.
Finally, the word Dubai may have evolved from the word Daba, which means to creep, referring to the way in which the Dubai Creek slowly flows inland.
Which one makes the most sense to you?
The longest automated metro system in the world is found in Dubai
According to Guinness World Records, the city’s metro is the longest metro line in the world to operate without a driver. Fully automated, the length of the route is around 75 kilometres. However, this public transport system keeps growing with new stops being added all the way to the site of the upcoming Expo 2020 to be held in the city.
Dubai Miracle Garden is the world’s largest flower garden
The largest natural flower garden in the world since its opening in February 2013, Dubai Miracle Garden features over 100 million flowers.
Situated in Dubai Holidays Dubailand, the garden extends over a 72,000-metre area that is watered with the reuse of waste water through drip irrigation. The garden stays closed during the summer months of May to September when the climate becomes too unbearable to remain outdoors.
The weekend is Friday and Saturday
Prior to 2006, the weekend fell on a Thursday and Friday as is customary with many muslim countries around the world. From 2006, this has been changed by Persian Gulf countries including the UAE to Friday and Saturday to better adapt to international business and financial markets.
Dubai has the largest airport terminal in the world
In just over 50 years, Dubai International (IATA: DXB) has gone from having a runway of compacted sand to being the busiest airport in the world by international passenger traffic.
The hub for Emirates and Flydubai is also one of the busiest airports in the world by combined passenger traffic.
Dubai International airport terminal 3 boasts the largest airport terminal in the world and also just happens to be the single largest building, by floor space.
Dubai has a Minister of State for Happiness
The UAE as a whole has initiated a number of projects implementing a National Happiness and Positivity Programme. This included the appointment of a Minister of Happiness setting up happiness and positivity offices.
The UAE also has a Minister of Tolerance to promote tolerance as a fundamental value in a country filled with a diverse range of ethnicities, backgrounds, and beliefs.
At least 10 skyscrapers are built in Dubai every year
In 1991 the Dubai World Trade Centre was the only skyscraper in the entire city. Three decades later and the city ranks fourth in the world for the number of completed skyscrapers taller than 150 m (492 ft) at 190.
Every year at least 10 skyscrapers are built in Dubai with 2007 being the highest year when 41 buildings taller than 100 metres were completed.
There are 3x more man than woman
There are far more men than women living in Dubai. According to the most recent demographic report, for every woman living in the city there are a total of three men.
Or in percentage, that’s almost 70% male and just over 30% female making up the population.
The higher proportion of men is because most of the expats working in the city are either single males or those who have left their families behind in their home countries.
Dubai has a Guinness world record office
Dubai and United Arab Emirates as a whole have been breaking so many records in the last ten years that Guinness World Record set up an office in Dubai so as to easily maintain and confirm all of these records.
I guess they got so tired of returning to Dubai to confirm the records, so they decided to open an office right amongst the action.
In Dubai foreigners outnumber locals by 7 to 1
Dubai is a culmination of cultures and people around the world.
But did you know that around 85% of the population are expats and foreigners. Only an approximate 15% of Dubai’s population is made up of local Emiratis.
Only after 20 years do expatriates qualify for an application for citizenship. Most foreigners are construction workers from India (51%), Pakistani (16%), Bangladesh (9%) and Filipinos (3%).
Dubai has NO street address or zip code system
Another interesting fact about Dubai is that due to the rate at which the city had been expanding meant that no address, zip, or postal system had been implemented. Instead, I hear that residents would have to give directions based on local landmarks, draw a map or make mention of specific instructions along the lines of, “after the blue mosque, third house on the left, gold door.”
It wasn’t until 2015 that the city started assigning a unique 10 digit code, called Makani numbers, to all buildings as identification. Up until this point, Dubai had no no region codes, no addresses, no postal divisions, and no postal framework.
The Dubai Police squad cars comprise supercars
I guess this is one way of attracting members into the police force.
With the number of sport cars in the city, the Dubai Police drive super-cars as a way to keep up if a pursuit is necessary. The cars. include a Lamborghini Aventador, Aston Martin One-77, and a Ferrari FF. This has the dual effect of impressing (or intimidating) the tourists and showing how “upmarket” the city is.
Dubai is the city of gold
As the City of Gold, Dubai has a flourishing gold trade market playing a major part in the economy.
The residents love gold so much that 40% of world’s physical gold trade goes through the city. Dubai is famous for its gold market, and the Gold Souk itself has over 250 gold shops. It is said that one in every five persons in Dubai buys at least five pieces of jewellery annually.
Should you want in on some of this gold action too, visit the gold souk for a huge variety of precious stones and jewellery.
Looking for more strange facts about Dubai….
Dubai pays its citizens to lose weight
Wait what? How about this crazy Dubai fact: in an attempt to encourage its citizens to loose weight, the Dubai Government awards 2 grams of gold as a reward for every kilogram lost. Only two children can participate per family and the program pays out, one average, over $700,000 in gold each year.
Talk about making every calorie count!
Dubai uses robots in camel racing
Camel racing has been a part of Arabian culture and history for the longest time. It is also an industry that is estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
However, due to the size and requirement for speed, only lightweight riders can be used as part of the race. In most cases, this would be a child who would be put at risk riding the camels in a rapid race. The sport led to a boom in child trafficking in the past forcing some countries to put an end to the sport.
The Gulf region came up with a solution by using remote-controlled child-sized robots instead. The robots cost between $300 to $10,000. This not only preserved the tradition, but has also piqued a lot more interest from the public.
The Burj al Arab is lined with gold
One of the most luxurious hotels in the world and also one of the tallest hotels of the world, the Burj Al Arab uses a whole lot of gold as part of their decor.
How much exactly?
The inside of the Burj Al Arab is covered with 1,790 square metres of 24-carat gold leaf incorporated into the interior theme.
Dubai has strict laws in place that could land you in jail
Sure you know that bringing drugs into the country could land you in some serious trouble.
However, did you know that it is illegal to kiss or dance in public. It is also against the law to be drunk in a public space. Other stringent laws to be aware of include the use of obscene language, and unmarried couples sharing a hotel room.
Be aware of these rules and laws when you intend on visiting Dubai.
The world’s tallest hotel has opened in Dubai
Not only does Dubai have the tallest building, but also the tallest hotel in the world with the opening of the Gevora Hotel.
Adding to the already impressive skyline, the hotel stands at 356 metres with 528 rooms. It is one metre taller than the previous record holder, the JW Mariott Marquis, which is also in Dubai.
A quarter of the world’s cranes are located here
This fact about Dubai is common knowledge, often called crane capital of the world particularly during the times of the construction boom in the city in 2006. During this period a quarter of the world’s cranes were working on building sites in Dubai. Since the 2018 financial crisis, this number has reduced somewhat.
That is 1 out of every 4 cranes in the world.
Dubai’s artificially constructed islands were once the largest in the world
When landing or taking off in the city, a multitude of man-made islands are often clearly visible from the plane. This fact about Dubai is easily comprehended once you see the magnitude from above.
The construction of Dubai’s Palm Islands required 94 million cubic meters of sand sourced from deep sea beds and 5.5 million cubic metres of rock brought over from 16 quarries.
These islands extending into the Persian Gulf, shaped to represent a date palm, increased the length of Dubai’s shoreline by over 520 kilometres. Here you will find hotels, residential apartments, and even amusement parks.
300 World Islands are under construction in the shape of the continents
The World Islands are a massive man-made archipelago of 300 private artificial islands in the shape of the globe and its continents constructed just off the coast of mainland Dubai.
If you’re wondering how much more interesting or weird these facts about Dubai can get, continue reading…
Dubai has the world’s only 7-star hotel
The Burj-al-Arab, built in the shape of a dhow sail, is one of the most luxurious hotels and the most expensive hotel in the world.
Constructed on an artificial island, it is the 5th tallest hotel in the world at 321 metres. There is a helipad near the roof, the lobby of this hotel is taller than the Statue of Liberty and one of its restaurants features a massive seawater aquarium through a simulated submarine voyage.
The temperature can get as high as 50°C
I’m willing to bet you knew this fact about Dubai already. It’s no surprise that in the hot summer months of June until September, the daytime mercury is regularly in the mid 40 °C and can get as high as 50°C.
The highest recorded temperature in the UAE is 52.1 °C (126 °F), noted in July 2002.
Time in the open is kept to an absolute minimum and most residents cope with this by remaining within air-conditioned spaces the entire season. The governments has even provided air-conditioned shelters for those waiting for public transport.
Dubai has a hot desert climate with summer being extremely hot, humid, and windy with an average high around 41 °C (106 °F) and overnight lows around 30 °C (86 °F) in the hottest month.
Summers are also prone to severe sandstorms, known locally as shamal, which can last for days on end, and reduce visibility. These sandstorms blow across the Arabian Peninsula from the north east during which fine dust seeps into e-v-e-r-y-thing.
You can ski in the middle of the desert
Ski Dubai is an indoor ski resort, facility, and snow park at the Mall of Emirates. It opened in 2005 featuring an 85 meter-high indoor mountain with 5 slopes and a 400 meter-long run. With an area of 22,500 square meters, adjoining the slopes there is also a 3,000 square metre snow park. The largest snowpack in the world comprises an ice cave, sled and toboggan runs, an icy body slide, climbing towers, and giant snowballs.
Dubai is not just flat desert, but comprises a mountainous enclave too
I had no idea about this Dubai fact. It isn’t just a coastal city, but also comprises a rugged mountainous exclave located about 71 miles (115 km) east of the city in the Hajjar Mountains.
Visitors to this region, referred to as Hatta, are presented with numerous activities. One can hike or mountain bike through the mountains, kayak at the Hatta Dam, and even explore the date and bee farms in the area.
The largest gold chain in the world is found in Dubai
The Dubai Celebration Chain is the world’s largest gold chain at an approximate length of 5 kilometres. Weighing over 240 kilograms, the 22 carat gold chain took 100 goldsmiths 45 days to craft this chain. It was created in celebration of 20 years of the Dubai Shopping Festival by the Dubai Gold and Jewellery Group.
Dubai is home to the largest choreographed dancing fountain in the world
Located just outside the Dubai Mall at the base of the Burj Khalifa, 6 major water fountains put on a show each night and when put together cover an area of more than 200 metres.
You may be waiting for me to say that these fountains are also the tallest in the world. But alas, that record goes to the King Fahd fountain in Saudi Arabia.
Dubai is building a climate controlled city in the size of a small country
“The Mall of the World” is a 50 million 4.45 square kilometre indoor city that is being built in Dubai. That is more than twice the size of Monaco.
The mall will be climate-controlled taking inspiration from New York’s Broadway and London’s Oxford Street with air-conditioned boardwalks connecting the various areas of the vacation spots together.
Car number plates are an indication of wealth and status
Cars are a big deal in Dubai and the number plate is yet another indication of how important (and rich) the driver is.
The fewer the digits on the number plate, the more sought after and valuable it is.
In 2008, Plate No. “1” was auctioned for $14.5 million.
The population in Dubai is to double by 2027
Dubai is ranked as one of the world’s fastest growing city.
In 1965 the total population of the Emirates was 150,000. The current population of Dubai is over 3 million and the city is expected to see a continued increase in the years ahead. Population growth predictions show the population of Dubai will reach over five million by 2027. The diverse and fast-growing economy has led to huge growth over the decades.
Exotic animals are pets in Dubai
While the rest of the world usually keep cats and dogs as pets, in Dubai exotic animals the likes of lions, cheetahs, and tigers are kept instead. Exotic pets are seen as status symbols.
I’m happy to hear that such a practise is becoming less common and is now illegal as the country passed a law banning private ownership and the trade of wild animals.
Dubai Holidays Dubailand will be the largest tourist destination on completion in 2020
On completion, Dubailand will be twice the size of Disneyworld in Florida earning the title of the largest single tourist destination in the world.
Citizens of Dubai get paid to get married
According to a resolution, an Emirati couple who meet certain criteria are eligible to receive AED70,000 from the government, paid in one instalment. Another unusual fact about Dubai.
To be eligible for the fund, there are certain requirements that must be met including the fact that both the groom and bride must be UAE nationals. This marriage grant applies to lower-income Emiratis and those on social welfare.
The entire city of Dubai can be driven from start to end in an hour
Not that big, eh? Just don’t attempt this during peak traffic.
The number of homeless people living in Dubai is almost negligible
You won’t see any homeless people while in Dubai and that’s because the law does not permit homeless people to continue living in the city. Not having a job and hence not being able to afford a place to stay is one fo the quickest way of getting your visa rejected and grounds for removal from the country.
Dubai has strong ties with India
Prior to the Dirham, the Indian rupee was the main currency in Dubai and the UAE. Despite the currency evolution, connections to India remain strong. India is the largest source market for visitors to Dubai. There are a large number of Indian restaurants throughout the city. There is also the world’s worst Bollywood theme park on the peripheral of the city.
The economy of Dubai is mainly real estate and tourism
Common fact we often hear is that Dubai’s economy mainly consists of its oil sales, discovered just over 50 years ago. However, you may be surprised to hear that Dubai has no oil left. Revenue from petroleum and natural gas currently account for less than 2% of its GDP.
A major part of the city’s economy today comes from real estate and tourism, focusing its economy by building hotels and developing real estate.
An interesting fact about Dubai is that the city was built on pearl diving. In the early 20th century there were more than 300 pearl diving dhows based in Dubai Creek, with over 7,000 sailors on board. Dubai’s Pearl Museum details this historic period and is home to one of the largest collections of pearls in the world, donated by pearl merchant Sultan Al Owais. On display you will also find AED 500 million worth of fine salt-water pearls.
The most expensive cocktail in the world can be found in Dubai
Yet another fun fact about Dubai. The most expensive cocktail, priced at around $7,440 is at the Dubai Skyview bar. The cocktail is served in a Swarovski Crystalline cocktail glass that you can take home as a souvenir.
And one last Dubai fact…
Dubai was mostly a small desert 50 years ago
Dubai was officially established in the early 19th century, but it was a dependent of Abu Dhabi until 1833. The city started out as as a pearl diving village and became known by traders and merchants for its pearl industry. In the early 20th century there were around 300 pearl diving dhows based in the area.
The flourishing pearl business collapsed once artificial pearls became possible in the 1930s. This resulted in much of Dubai’s population, which relied on the pearling industry, to migrate.
This changed with the discovery of oil in 1966. However, its reserves are limited and Dubai’s rulers turned to other industries to help the economy. In the 1980s, Dubai became free-trade and also opened a tax-free infotech hub to attract technology companies. Media, finance and maritime projects followed. Massive investments saw Dubai grow into a global financial centre.
I’d say that’s some pretty impressive growth right there. Where is this city headed into the future?
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Tell me guys, which destination would you like to hear about next?
Until the next set of wonderful, weird, interesting destination facts,